I have a hard time staying present when talking to friends, family, even my husband some days. I am always bringing up the past, my past. They have raised families, attended weddings, vacationed, changed jobs, moved … all the things ‘normal’ people do. I wonder, is my thought process that stunted? It is. I am more than a bit self-centered when it comes to dealing with my illness. To me, it is the most important thing in my life. To others, it simply is not. An illness is just ‘stuff’ that happens, usually to others …
Let’s face it, most people are either healthy, or they are not. They are fat, or they are not. They are happy, or they are not. And when you ask them how they are? They are fine. When you ask someone with a chronic illness how they are… it depends. If they have had their illness for some time, they are fine. If they just got it, you will get an inventory of how they are feeling. If they are not feeling well, you may get, “Like you care?”
No wonder those of us with chronic illnesses do not gain much favor after the diagnosis of ‘chronic’ comes. It’s really a crapshoot dealing with us! A gamble. We are certainly not current in our thoughts, ideas, or family events and happenings. Even though chronic illness tends to take away our ‘ability to engage,’ we try to fight our way back. So, just what is there to talk to a chronically ill person about besides their illness? Those of us with chronic illnesses need to think of ways we can communicate and be present in our lives!
Human beings, in general, get over ‘stuff.’ An illness to most is just ‘stuff.’ People have a lot of ‘stuff’ happening in their daily lives. To a person with a chronic illness, this ‘stuff’ is an all-consuming, every minute of an everyday companion. It must be listened to, cared for, attended to. Hence, we must seek balance. We must seek some semblance of “normalcy.”
It is time to put the little monster called fibromyalgia on a schedule. You can’t just ignore it, although at times you must put on a brave face and pretend it doesn’t exist! There is a process you must learn. You must re-engage in real life. Current life. When was the last time you had a conversation about anything without an illness in it? Aches and pains, flares and fog? Can you think of a sentence that doesn’t start with, “Because of my [insert name of disease]…” Your deceptive little chronic companion stamps its feet and demands to be heard! It is a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. Guess what? We are smarter than that two-year-old.
We are smarter than a two-year-old. We are done being controlled by a tantruming, time-consuming illness. We will tend to it, on our terms! We will pay attention to it, on our time. We will re-engage in current events.
- We will find a support group in which to share our feelings, ideas, and resources with.
- We can make and follow a schedule to reduce the probability of fibro flares.
- We can follow our medication schedule to keep flares at bay.
- We can stretch and gently exercise every day.
- We can pursue hobbies that have nothing to do with fibromyalgia.
- We can keep a journal, ‘My Complaints Journal’ so we don’t feel the need to report our ills to others, uninvitedly.
- We can seek out daily, positive activities so we can open a conversation that is pleasant and cheerful.
- We can take charge of our illness, to the best of our abilities, it will not be in charge of us.
What are additional things, ideas, and/or activities, we can do to participate and engage in the present?
Let’s live our best life!